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Friday, April 15, 2011

Should digital books cost 1c a page?

An interesting question. With the advent of digital books, so the price per book has dropped. A traditional paperback of let's say 300 pages costs about $7.99 - or 2.7c a page. Hardbacks cost about double that. So, extrapolating things backwards, should digital books cost about 1.3c a page? Should that same 300 page digital book cost $3.99?

What do you think?

I actually think it's an interesting model, and maybe one that will eventually come into being. So, let me look at my digital books and see where they come in:

  • Xannu - The Prophecy: 378 pages, $0.99 = 0.26c per page
  • Xannu - The Healing: 424, $3.99 = 0.94c per page
  • Fergus Fedderfeeny's Food Factory: 186 pages, $2.99 = 1.6c per page
  • The 10 Hour Project Manager: 67 pages, $4.99 = 7.4c per page

The odd book out here is my '10 Hr PM' book, but that's a reference book and they tend to go for much higher prices in general, so I'm okay with charging 7c per page of knowledge. As for the others, they sort of come out similar, considering that 'The Prophecy' is on offer at $0.99.

As I and the rest of the Indie authors out there experiment with digital book prices, I'll report back and let you know where things are headed. In the meantime, it seems like a great opportunity for you to head out and buy 'The Prophecy.' As you can see, at only $0.99 it is wonderful value for money! Here's the blurb:

For fans of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and The Narnia Chronicles, the first installment in a thrilling epic fantasy series… 
Would you wake up in a hot sweat if you lived your night’s dreams as a soldier battling un-earthly creatures, witnessing powerful magic and fighting to save your own life on a daily basis?
English schoolboy Terry West does. Frequently. After digging up some rune coins near a roman road, he has been living in another world inhabited by warlocks, seductresses, priests and prophecy. There Terry is a soldier, Teern Truthbringer, who has been tasked with finding the Xannu - 'he who will lead the people into deliverance.' 
If only it wasn’t real; but it is. Very real. When it all began it was even enjoyable, but now Terry’s life is getting very complicated. Somehow he involved his best friend Joe and although it had seemed a good idea at the time, the consequences had been dire. Then there is Susan, the leggy sister of klutzy school-friend Brian. Why does she keep sending him messages? 
Terry is struggling to balance the two lives he leads and every day he is losing his grip on reality just a little bit more. He’s been forced to kill enemies; his companion, the magical woman Maria, is scaring him half to death with her abilities; and his parents are on his back about his school work. 
How will he balance the two lives he leads, solve two sets of problems, and understand the lessons he receives from both? Only time will tell. But time is something Terry doesn't have too much of, as everything is unfolding in ways he could never have imagined! 
Book 1 of 'The Southern Lands' saga
“Listen to the teachings of a wise man. You may not understand all he says but you will surely have nourishment for the future. Be positive and plan for success. Failure to plan is to plan for failure. Worry not at what came before but only prepare yourselves for that which is ahead.” (Pika’Al 10:1-5, The Scriptures of Al’Zaneed)


  1. Well, it's an interesting idea, but the "page" is not a standard thing when it comes to e-books. The number of pages will be determined by the size of the screen of the e-book reader. In a way, it's analagous to the way that different formats of printed books will have different numbers of pages.

    So, should there be a different price for the Kindle, Nook and iBook versions?

  2. The price is almost irrelevant. If the reader downloads the first few chapters and wants to read more, they are not likely to care if the price is .99 or 2.99; if they like it they'll buy it. If they do not like it, they are not going to buy it anyway, regardless of the price.

  3. @ Robert; I don't exactly agree. A lot of "mainstream" ebooks are priced over 10 dollars. Even if I completely ADORE the first few chapters, I will not spend 10 bucks on a ebook

  4. Mainstream publishers still believe they can get 'full price' for ebooks (i.e. same as paperback). That model will change over time...

  5. Page count doesn't matter for e-books since readers can reset margins and font size which varies the page count of adapting print to e-book. It should be judged my word count instead. I'm not going to sell my 100,000 word historical fiction for 99cents. Most of those at that price are novellas under 50,000 words.

    I also think pricing an e-book $10 less than the print version is reasonable.

  6. I think that an ebook should cost almost as much as a printed book. The cost of printing isn't there, so that's definitely something to consider. But a tremendous amount of work by the author, publisher and everyone else involved remains just the same as if the book were being made into a physical novel. It's hard to write a good book. So, if you find one that you enjoy and respect (whether you read it on a screen or off paper), why wouldn't you support the author in their efforts to make a living off of their talent?

  7. It's really impossible to compare the costs of producing an ebook and a printed book because of economies of scale and of printing. The up-front costs are roughly the same, in terms of writing, editing, design and formatting. However, the cost (as opposed to the price) of a printed book, per copy, falls dramatically when you get to a large quantity of printed books.
    However, that model doesn't apply to electronic downloads. So a printed book that costs $10 or $20 , which includes recouping the cost of paper, ink and distribution, can't apply to the cost of an e-book.

    Another cost which is probably the same for both types of books is marketing and promotion. I have no idea what that costs, and how much you have to spend to make it work. Any ideas?

  8. I just received a Kindle Fire a couple of weeks ago and by now, I thought I'd have a dozen books there, ready to read. Two things happened. I found I could not loan my digital books. And as far as I know, I cannot trade them. This amounts to stealing my money for something I wind up not owning.

    Now, I know the conversations here are not along this vein. But when the end result is that I cannot, in any way share or bargain with what what I legally purchased, this becomes a no brainer for me.

    I will CONTINUE to purchase printed paper books. I will reserve the Kindle Fire for research and testing new websites.

    The Kindle FIre is turning into a cheap ipad for my purposes.

    Until the price comes down dramatically, I will not be purchasing fiction for pleasure reading in digital format.


  9. I won't pay $10-15 for an ebook, either, but many people do. I use my ereader mainly for indie books that tend to be low cost, for free classics, and for free books from other authors asking for a review. I'd wait for the library to have a book in print before I'd spend that kind of money on an ebook I can't pass along after I read it.

  10. Okay where should I start. Let's see if I can keep my comment short. The most I've paid for an ebook is $4.99 which was yesterday and the only reason I paid that much was because the paperback (Which I prefer) was $14.99 and I was looking forward to reading his book.Otherwise I normally only buy ebooks when they're .99 or free.

  11. I would rather buy a print book than pay the same price for the e-version. Legacy publishers are still trying to sell their hardbacks and price the ebooks the same until the paperback comes out.